Doctors and nurses complicit in US torture, report says

Doctors and nurses complicit in US torture, report says

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Doctors and nurses complicit in US torture, report says

CIA medical personnel were present during abuses, the report claims. AFP photo

Doctors and nurses tasked with monitoring the health of terror suspects were complicit in abuses committed at prisons run by the Pentagon and the CIA, an independent report said Nov. 4.

The Defense Department and the CIA demanded that the health care personnel “collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S. custody,” according to the two-year study by the Institute of Medicine and the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

Medical professionals helped design, enable and participated in “torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of detainees, according to the report. They were told that their “first do no harm” mantra did not apply, because they weren’t necessarily treating ill people.

The taskforce further claimed that the CIA office of medical services advised the justice department with regards to the torturing, claiming treatments such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding were medically acceptable. CIA medical personnel were even present during waterboarding of detainees.

Collaboration at U.S. prisons in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the Central Intelligence Agency secret detention sites began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The report, conducted by two dozen military, ethics, medical, public health and legal experts, calls on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate medical practices at the detention sites.

“It’s clear that in the name of national security, the military trumped (the Hippocratic Oath), and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice,” said study co-author Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University.

CIA, Pentagon reject findings

The authors also urged the Pentagon and CIA to follow standards of conduct that would let medical personnel adhere to their ethical principles so they could later heal detainees they encounter. Both the CIA and the Pentagon rejected the report’s findings.

The report “contains serious inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions,” said CIA public affairs chief Dean Boyd.

Obama signed an executive order shortly after taking office in 2009 that banned interrogation techniques used under his predecessor George W. Bush and that critics say amount to torture.

Although the president has not banned extraordinary rendition, new rules prevent suspects from being tortured before they are transferred to a different country for interrogation, trial or continued detention.